Recent Blog Articles

Diarrhea in Adults

November 24, 2020


This guide is designed to help you understand the most likely reasons for your symptoms.

If your diarrhea is substantial, if you have other unexplained symptoms such as fatigue, abdominal pain, weight loss, or blood in your bowel movements, or if your diarrhea has persisted for more than five days, you should visit with your doctor to discuss your symptoms. This guide is intended to be used as a compliment to discussions with your doctor, not as a substitute for office-based care.

You will encounter a small number of questions about your experience with diarrhea as you proceed through this program. Your answers will move you toward information that is most pertinent to your circumstances.

Click here to begin.

Because they do not share many causes in common, it is best to consider "acute" diarrhea and "chronic" diarrhea as separate symptoms.

  • Acute diarrhea has an abrupt onset and replaces a previously normal bowel pattern. If you have acute diarrhea, you have probably experienced symptoms for fewer than three weeks.

  • Chronic diarrhea slowly develops and persists for months or years, or it causes recurring episodes of diarrhea.

Which type of diarrhea symptoms are you experiencing?

Acute diarrhea symptoms

Chronic diarrhea symptoms

To continue reading this article, you must log in.

Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.

  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »

I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.

Sign Me Up

Already a member? Login ».


As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.